Jackie Kellso

Asking the Right Question: Closed-Ended or Open-Ended?

In asking questions, closed-ended questions, communicating, communication, communication skills, communications between generations, conflict resolution, connecting with people, dealing with a difficult coworker, delegating, diplomacy and tact, disagree agreeably, disagreements, effective communicating, employee engagement, engagement, How to Win Friends and Influence People, human relations, human relations principles, improve communication, interpersonal skills, interview questions, interviewing skills, managing conflict, negativity at work, negotiating, open-ended questions, person to person dynamics, professional behavior, professional development, sharing information, yes or no on November 21, 2015 at 5:01 pm

As busy professionals we try to save time by asking others quick questions.  Yes or No. In and Out. Move on.  Well, unfortunately, this sometimes backfires and shuts down a healthy conversation or the sharing of very important information, and can create negative reactions from others.

As an example, I have to let my clients tell me what they need, rather than assume.  Here’s a sample:

Wrong way:

Me: “Would you like to learn a better way of communicating?”

You: “No, thanks for asking.”

Right way:

Me: “In what ways would you like to improve your communication?”

You: “Well, I’d like to be able to get people to open up; to get them more engaged.”

Me: “Thank you for sharing.  Can you give me an example of what has happened in the past that makes this important to you?”

This is the difference between asking closed-ended questions and open-ended questions.  So many people fall into the pit of non-responsiveness by asking a question that will yield a yes or no answer, when in fact, by asking an open-ended question it can provoke thinking, participation and engagement.

There are times when a closed-ended question makes sense:

Are you hungry?

Are you ready to talk about your raise? 

Would you like to work from home one day a week?

Do you think we got the business?

The difference is this: when professionals are looking to deepen the context of a conversation, learn more from customers or colleagues; share ideas, motivate others, discover the sources of problems, it’s a good idea to know how to engage through open-ended questioning.

This is especially so when in conflict.  We use this tool to remain calm and composed.

Closed-ended:

You: “Do you want to talk this out?”

Other: “NO!”

Open-ended:

You: “Help me understand how you came to that conclusion.  What did I say that, in your words, seems unfair?”

Other: “You gave Ellen more time to explain her point of view than you gave me.”

You: “Ah,  I wasn’t aware, thank you for telling me. Okay, what did I not give you the opportunity to share?  It’s important to me to hear what you have to say.”

Imagine gently tossing a ball back to the other person, whose turn it is to hit the ball.  Be prepared to give recognition and consideration of the other person’s feelings at the same time.

Closed-Ended:

You: “The client called to say he’s unhappy with the outcome of the project.  Did you hear that too?”

Other:  “Yes, but it wasn’t my fault.”

Open-Ended:

You: “The client called to say he’s unhappy with the outcome of the project.  What do you imagine happened? I know how much time and effort you put into it.”

Other:  “I’m really disappointed.  I’m not sure what went wrong. I felt embarrassed to ask him directly.”

You:  “I can understand.  Let’s see if we can learn more so we can fix this. We have some options. You can call and ask him why he had this reaction and what we can do to fix the problem, or I can jump on the call with you to support you.  Which would you prefer?”

People love options.  When asking open-ended questions also give them some autonomy, as above.

Yes, this questioning technique slows us down and we have so much to do!  From my experience, the clarity and connection make it worth the effort. Practice asking open-ended questions and see what happens! Then you at least have the tool when you think it will produce the right results.

Happy questioning,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Advertisements

Public Speaking Tip: Reveal vs. Impress

In body language, business pitching, business relationships, communicating, communication, communication skills, impress, non-verbal signals, personal development, personal growth, pitches, pitching, presentation skills, presentations, presenting, public speaking, public speaking fear, reveal, selling, training, transparency on February 10, 2015 at 7:13 pm

The public speaker who wants to win an audience, get buy-in and be memorable has the right intentions.  And, in order to be effective one must achieve these goals.  Yet, so many people only have a portion of the formula needed to accomplish this.  Many strive to show themselves as expert of their content.  Good, but not enough. Many realize that it’s not only the content, it’s also the delivery – body language, eye contact, vocal inflection, pitch, etc..  Great!  Still, not enough.

The winning formula for public speakers is content+delivery+TRANSPARENCY.  Why transparency? When we are actively speaking or presenting, in that moment, we are in a leadership role. There is much written about how transparency in leadership is a winning formula. Revealing our authentic selves builds trust and helps people connect to us.

I shall explain.  When a speaker is only trained to impress an audience — content+delivery — s/he is not reaching into the guts of the listeners for an emotional reaction to the message. I don’t care whether the message is about how to change a tire; as public speakers, in order to WOW our listeners and actually make lasting impact, we must be prepared to shed a public persona or any veneer, and reveal ourselves to the point where the audience is seeing what makes us uniquely human.

Hence, REVEAL vs. IMPRESS.  But how?  Think of yourself as a pistachio nut. You know that inside you are crunchy, sweet and savory. What’s inside the shell is what we want. What’s outside is a protection that cannot be consumed.  Imagine you can impress because you have built up your presentation skills (content + delivery).  Crack open the shell to reveal the good stuff! Now your audience can digest the best of you.

Here are quick tips to help get you there:

1. Tell a personal story.  Let it reveal how you feel about your subject matter and how an experience changed you.  Make the story relevant to the audience’s interests and to the point of your presentation.  Show humility and gratitude within your area of expertise.

2. Allow your own range of emotions to come through.  Be more emphatic than you think you need to be.  Dramatize. Show honest frustration, sadness, joy, passion…SHOW that you are moved by what you’re saying.  Show a little vulnerability. This adds so much credence to your message and makes you more likable and trustworthy.

3. Do not be self-deprecating.  This is usually an unconscious but manipulative action to make people feel sorry for us.  The effect is that it lowers the expectations audiences have of the speaker.  This doesn’t endear them to us! Be humble and confident (or even act it if you have to!)  Confidence is very appealing!

4. State facts and truths (not claims).  People who are out to impress say things like, “It’s the greatest!”  We’re number one!”  They come off as bragging vs. confident.  Instead bring evidence to support your points.  Use third party sources. REVEAL truths that support your message and fuel the audience’s belief in you.  Give the audience a sense of being brought in on what’s real and truthful.

5. Dare to be uncomfortable.  As a coach I know that the people who deliver the best speeches or presentations are those who are willing to feel ‘out there’ and unnatural and stretched to the max using the tools of transparency. Make it your duty to be out of your comfort zone.  This is important because it subliminally translates to audiences that not only are you quite competent, you are fearless about showing them who you really are:  the best pistachio of the bunch.

Speaking from the heart,

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Need Help Managing Emotions at Work? Use “Cushion Words.”

In anger management, avoiding arguments, communication, coping with pressure at work, Cushion Words, Detach & Breathe, emotions management, manage stress at work, managing emotions at work, Uncategorized on November 27, 2018 at 6:13 pm

For managing emotions at work, here’s a tip: Use “Cushion Words” as you feel your stomach or neck or head or back tighten or hurt. This is your body saying “Warning! I’m about to lose my cool!” Cushion words are short phrases that engage the executive or “thinking” brain right away and give you the cushion between your emotions and your reactions. Cushion word examples: “Detach & Breathe.” “Pause & Think.” “I got this.” “Recalibrate.” “I’m in control.” “I’m okay. ”

You pick the word or phrase that suits you and write these words down on post its everywhere so that your brain remembers to use them. After awhile, it will become second nature.

Keep cool!

Jackie

Copyright, PointMaker Communications, Inc., 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jackie Kellso and PointMaker Communications, Inc., with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.